A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this big-screen take on the classic comic book superhero, starring Ryan Reynolds as a cocky test pilot who morphs into a superhero, offers lots of fast-paced, combat-filled action, much of it cartoonish in nature. And the movie's Parallax monster is pretty scary (especially for younger kids), but there's isn't much in the way of blood or gore -- though one scene does show a syringe going into a character's eye. The movie is humorous at some moments and intense during others; it superficially addresses heavy topics like death and childhood trauma. Expect infrequent swearing ("s--t," "a--hole," etc.), some drinking (mostly social, by adults), flirting, kissing, and a shot or two of characters in skimpy apparel (one after an implied one-night stand).
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
A beloved member of the Green Lantern corps of intergalactic police has died, felled by a monster known as the Parallax that feeds off fear. The glowing ring that empowers him also hunts for his successor; surprisingly, it chooses Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), a headstrong, impulsive, irresponsible, but talented pilot who's still plagued by the death of his father (also a flyer) in a fiery crash. Hal's not sure he’s up for the job (though he's clearly tickled by the idea that he's a superhero). As former paramour/colleague Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) reminds him, he's more capable than he allows himself to be -- but can he face off with the Parallax, even if it means confronting a childhood friend (Peter Sarsgaard)?
Is it any good?
Buoyant, irreverent, and not entirely satisfying, GREEN LANTERN is, as superhero movies go, heavy on the artillery (special effects) and light on profundity. Is it really that difficult to create a superhero with complexity (Spider-Man and Iron Man excepted)? It's not for lack of material; Hal Jordan, after all, has plenty of childhood trauma to mine. Although the movie acknowledges his torment, it spends much more time painting him as a bad-boy-with-a-heart enlivened by a ring that allows him to perform super-cool tricks. (As Hammond, Saarsgard does a better job at three-dimensionality but is also plagued by too much theatricality.)
The movie admittedly engaging at first -- wouldn't you be agog, too, if you discovered you had the ability to create anything simply from willpower and thought? But the conceit gets old quickly. Characters that could easily have lent Hal gravitas -- his nephew, his brothers -- disappear without a trace. Any nod to his shades of gray are quickly erased. This isn’t to say that Reynolds fails; on the contrary, his easy charm appeals. But next time (if there is a next time), can his Jordan plumb more emotional depths?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Hal is reluctant to step into his role. What holds him back? Is this a typical reaction of would-be superheroes in other movies?
Do the movie's special effects minimize the violence? How does the impact of this kind of violence compare to more realistically violent scenes?
- In theaters: June 17, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: October 14, 2011
- Cast: Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Ryan Reynolds
- Director: Martin Campbell
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action
- Last updated: November 15, 2019
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